Run­ners, Meet the Gym

Canadian Running - - DEPARTMENTS - By Jon-Erik Kawamoto

We tend to fear the un­known, and for many run­ners, the gym is that un­known. I equate it to look­ing un­derneath the hood of your car if you’re not a me­chanic. What’s that tube for? Do I put this liq­uid here or in there? Sim­i­lar ques­tions can be asked when look­ing into a gym. What’s that ma­chine for? What can I do with this bar­bell? And will it make me a bet­ter run­ner, or screw up my week?

With a lit­tle ed­u­ca­tion and in­struc­tion, we can fa­mil­iar­ize our­selves with the gym so we can be less fear­ful and more con­fi­dent.

Strength and power train­ing for run­ning in­volves lift­ing weights and per­form­ing vari­a­tions of jump­ing ex­er­cises to im­prove over­all strength and power and to cor­rect for any mus­cu­lar im­bal­ances. One of the pro­posed mech­a­nisms for bet­ter run­ning per­for­mance is an im­proved “run­ning econ­omy,” or the en­ergy used to run at a par­tic­u­lar pace. Through strength and power train­ing, the lower limb mus­cles and ten­dons ac­tu­ally be­come stiffer – and no, not in a neg­a­tive way.

When your foot makes con­tact with the ground dur­ing the run­ning stride, elas­tic en­ergy is stored in your lower limb’s mus­cles, ten­dons and lig­a­ments. A por­tion of this stored en­ergy can be used dur­ing the later phase of the run­ning stride, which lim­its the mus­cle en­ergy ex­pen­di­ture re­quired for toe off. Re­ferred to as the stretch-short­en­ing cy­cle, this en­hanced stor­age and uti­liza­tion of en­ergy ul­ti­mately leads to bet­ter run­ning ef­fi­ciency, mor­ph­ing you from a gas-guz­zling truck into a Tesla.

Strength train­ing can also make your body more re­silient to the pound­ing and de­mands of en­durance run­ning, al­low­ing you to train for more con­sec­u­tive months with­out in­ter­rup­tion from in­jury. This means bet­ter devel­op­ment of your car­dio­vas­cu­lar sys­tem, which should trans­late to bet­ter race-day per­for­mance.

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